Who is she?
Constance Stone was the first woman to practice medicine in Australia. Born in Hobart in 1856, she was forced to leave Australia to study medicine, since the University of Melbourne wouldn’t admit women to its course.
She graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and got her MD from the University of Trinity College in Toronto. Constance went on to work in London’s New Hospital for Women and wanted to found a hospital that was run ‘by women, for women’.
In 1890 she became the first woman to be registered with the Medical Board of Victoria. Her sister, Clara Stone, also studied medicine – she was allowed to study at the University of Melbourne and was one of two women who graduated in 1891. The sisters went into private practice in Melbourne.
In 1896, 11 women doctors from Melbourne, led by Constance, decided to found the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women and it officially opened in 1899. The hospital was funded by a “shilling fund” organised by Constance – every woman in Victoria was asked to donate a shilling.
Why should we thank her?
For leading the way for women doctors in Australia and, along with her sister, working to establish the first women’s hospital in Victoria. Today, it’s the site of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, which houses a number of women’s organisations, including EMILY’s List, Fitted for Work, Domestic Violence Victoria and The Council of Single Mothers and their Children.